Summer Guide: Party

It's heating up and I'm starting to freak out. I'm waking up in the middle of the night sweating, watching as the fan blades above my bed spin angrily, like the fan blades in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original one).

I am still, feeling my body temperature and my patience spin out of control. What diabolical tinkerer destined me to be in Phoenix during the summer?

And what happened to the days of my youth when I didn't mind the summers? I mean, as a kid growing up in the Valley, I never looked at the summer dearth with such disdain. Those were halcyon days — mostly because I was young and didn't have to hold down some bullshit job.

The best summers always involved water. Not the salt-water baptismal of the mighty ocean, but the cool dip of the chlorine. If I close my eyes, I can catch the faint smell of blow-up floaty toys and cheap coconut-tinged oil (which I now associate more with strippers than sunburned shoulders).

Back in the day, we used to pool-hop into the well-manicured yards of the affluent Mormons. You'd sneak over a backyard wall and slowly ease yourself into the pool, watching people inside their air-conditioned houses; you felt part creepy voyeur and part awesome thief. We used to smoke heaps of dope and shoplift 40-ounce Mickey's and lay by the pool with socks on our cocks to avoid scorched tender areas. We felt like rebels (and, believe it or not, straight). We used to skinny-dip anywhere we could with anyone we could . . .

I still search out water during the summer months, but it's been 20 years since I didn't have tan lines. Things are tamer now; I don't drink a 40 by the pool anymore because I'm not supposed to have glass near the water. More important, I couldn't drink it fast enough so that it would still be cold by the time I finished. I still pee in the pool, though.

The problem, then and now — no pool.

Just for the record, I'm no slouch. I have a pool key to a fancy complex, and I have a knife that can jimmy open the gate at a nearby cement pond. But nothing beats having a pool in your own backyard. Which I don't.

So when the mercury hits, like, 110, I think of the rad times when the movie Valley Girl was, like, way cool and the best place to hang was totally Big Surf. I'm all, "Big Surf will always be the most bitchin' place to hide from the heat."

I love the old place — in fact, we both originated in 1969. Damn, it's about time I have a crush on something my own age!

I'd better back up. If you're new to the Valley, or if you didn't grow up here, there's a place across from one of the last drive-ins in town called fucking Big Surf. It borders the Indian rez and there is nothing around but desert. The funny thing is that some developers/visionaries built a theme park based around the idea of surfing on fake waves in landlocked Arizona (these guys have smoked heaps of dope as well).

From my teenage past, I remember hot chicks and boogie boards and an F U San Diego attitude: Hey, we have our own ocean! Although, really, the whole thing resembled a giant playground for the Ty-D-Bol man more than it did a surfer's paradise. We all wore OP shorts and had Sex Wax T-shirts. Sex Wax, I gather, is something for your surfboard to enable more traction; to us youth, it just said SEX and that worked for us. We all wanted to be Californians and, dammit, we were — we had waves and babes and sweet marijuana.

So let's get down to it: Big Surf provides an "Aqua Playground" where youth can ride waves. My cousin Timmy taught us how you can ride waves and slap asses of hot chicks as you fly by on your inflatable raft. Yes, a chance to touch a tight, sun-ripe ass without being caught — pure youth porn!

When I was a kid, Big Surf was just that whole beach thing. But, today, Big Surf is a little bit more. In addition to the original 2.5-million gallon wave pool, it now has water amusement in the form of nine different slides. The multiple slides are more aptly named after porn movies than kiddy recreation. For example, Captain Cook's Landing, Tahitian Twister, and the Black Hole. Man, the whole place screams of California sex addicts and young hormonal imaginations.

I always hate that we Arizonans are called "Zonies," and that every dope-smoking derelict from California makes fun of us because we don't have an ocean. Well, I can tell you this: At Big Surf, our waves are just as big, or at least more consistent, and there are no needles and cigarette butts and used condoms in the sand. F U San Diego is all I have to say. Sure, we don't have the cool breeze and the opportunity to score dope in lollipop form, but we do have waves, motherfucker.

For the record, I love the rhythm of the ocean and the cool salt-water air, and its absence here in the Valley saddens me deeply. It also saddens me that I have to drive six hours at four bucks a gallon to experience the whole "ocean" thing, with all the beach sluts and other homeless-surfer-dude nonsense that comes with California. Shit, every time I'm in San Diego, I end up hanging out with a bunch of douchebags from some other state anyway. Real Californians stay the hell away from the putrid, sewage-infested waters of the coast. They're smart; they're a blue state!

So this diatribe brings me back to Big Surf — the giant, man-made toilet version of the Pacific Coast. Other than the dwindling Salt River (and small, over-chlorinated pools), you can't really experience "water" in this state, so I go for the allure of a fake ocean. What's wrong with fake waves in fucking Tempe, Arizona? Hell, Scottsdale is known for fake tits!

Last time I hit the fake beach, it was 1994, and I was on enough 'shrooms to kill a rhinoceros. And let me be clear: Mushrooms and a giant toilet do mix for a good time. My last fleeting memory is of my buddy hitting me on the shoulder and telling me I was going to get arrested.

Arrested? I was innocent, not some creeper with a rap sheet! What's wrong with a 25-year-old man with a sunburn sitting among a gaggle of 5-year-olds? What's fitting is that I was situated, with a huge Cheshire Cat smile, in a play area covered with mushrooms spurting waterfalls with a handful of MILFs staring at me. As it turned out, I didn't get arrested.

Man, I wish I was on a beach right now — I've got Zeppelin going in my head, "Spent my days with a woman unkind, smoked my stuff and drank all my wine. Made up my mind to make a new start, going to California with an aching in my heart." Just get some friends and go to Big Surf — it's not really as hard, hard, hard as it seems.

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C.M. Redding
Contact: C.M. Redding